I have this team building thing at work tomorrow. I am supposed to bring 3 to 4 items that represent the following:
- Personal values
- Important significant events that shaped me
- Important people in my life
- Experiences that influenced me as a leader
- Hobby or a leisure time activity
When the email came in last week, I was overwhelmed and forwarded it to Laura to think about for me. I didn’t really have time for grown up show and tell.
Laura was spot on in her thinking and had some great ideas. She picked framed picture of me at the end of the Edinburgh half marathon. It captured the leisure time activity and a bit of personal values that related to resiliency.
We grabbed the picture of Laura, the Child, my father and me from the Empire State Building tourist photo shop. It was a good family picture and the Empire State Building back drop was corny, but meaningful, speaking to New York, the place I consider my spiritual home.
I put the two picture frames into an ASDA bag, another item of significance. I bought the bag in London with my sister. London is another special place for me. Most of my Mother’s side of the family is there.
I needed at least one more item. Not a picture, preferably something from High School or College. What first came to me was the little gray T.S. Eliot book from Valley High School. I’ve had it since 1983. I was supposed to turn it in, but didn’t. That damn book meant too much to me. The way the words came together was magical:
“We are the hollow men
we are the stuffed men.
Headpieces filled with straw”
“Apeneck Sweeney spreads his knees
Letting his arms hang down to laugh”
“Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table”
It was language at its best; memorable, visual, yet the images were somehow felt dark, like the words were being misused. There were these long narratives that just lost me after a while, but I couldn’t part with them. I’ve carried that book with me everywhere I’ve lived for going on 30 years.
The only problem is, I can’t find the book. I went through the bookshelf upstairs and it’s not where it should be. There are bookshelves in the garage along with boxes of books. There is a box of books out in the shed, but the T.S. Eliot book would not be there. I found the W.H. Auden, Boccaccio’s Decmeron and Descartes Discourse on Method, but no Eliot. I found and considered taking Emerson’s, Self-Reliance, after all, I read that in High School and had the book since college. That wasn’t quite enough.
I’ve run out of time looking for the book. Instead of bringing the Eliot, I will bring a little $5 plaque my High School English teacher gave me when my I.B. class graduated. It is a quote from Emerson, “Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.”